How to Plan Your Spring Garden in Chicago
First of all, before you go nuts at your local nursery picking out bulbs and plants to plant in your garden; it is a good idea to draft up a garden plan, especially if you are planting your Chicago garden for the first time. Start with a design, even if is just a simple sketch with a pencil and paper. What kind of spring garden do you want? Some people prefer edibles such as fruits and vegetables over ornamental plants such as tulips or roses. Maybe you like to have a mix of each. Be sure to use your space wisely and consider the full-grown plant. If you are planning a container garden, make sure that you have the right kind of pots with good drainage.
When to Plant Your Garden in Chicago
For a spring garden, the best time to plant is after May 15. Don’t make the mistake of getting spring fever and planting on a warm weekend in March. Just because they are selling the bulbs and plants in stores in April, does not mean that they will do well outside yet. For outdoor plants it is best to wait until the official freeze days are over, which is May 15. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start sooner with a grow light in your own apartment. Get the seedlings going strong inside your home and you will have a head start for planting outside when the middle of May rolls around.
Plants That Do Well in Chicago
The Chicago Botanical Garden is a great resource when considering what to plant in your Chicago Garden. For a database of searchable plants, check out bestplants.org to search its recommended list of plants for Illinois. Officially, Chicago is in the USDA planting zone 5a, but due to the lake effect there are areas that could be considered Zone 6b. Here are some of the more popular plants for Chicago by category:
Plants and Flowers:
Planning and planting a spring garden in Chicago is the perfect way to get over the cold-weather blues. Remember to plan carefully, and don’t rush the season. Start indoors if you have to, then plant the seedlings outside when the harsh winter freezes are over.